“Extraordinarily stimulating,” “culturally enlightening,” “an athletic triumph.” These are but a few ways in which the performance I witnessed last Saturday was described by fellow show-goers. The show in question was a performance by the brilliant Lakshmi Thiagarajan and Sanjana Ramaswamy presenting pieces of the 2000-year-old classical Indian dance form of Bharathanatyam.
The performed dances aimed to portray traditional stories from Hindu tradition. Lakshmi Thiagarajan and Sanjana Ramaswamy achieved this task through a dazzling display of abstract and highly coordinated movement which succeeded in telling a story solely through dance.
Your faithful correspondent didn’t know what to expect when he first stepped into the Barron Theatre. Admittedly, I had never seen any Indian dances old or new and the vague slip of information about the show advertised left me guessing at exactly what I was about to see. However, the audience and I were duly enlightened about the traditional dance by the show’s curator, and soon after we were blown away by the performance itself.
The show was split between the two dancers, who each put on a 35-minute act. Between each act, the curator of the show described both the story the dance aimed to illustrate and the classical training of each dancer.
It quickly became abundantly clear that Lakshmi Thiagarajan and Sanjana Ramaswamy were extremely capable dancers. As the curator articulated, both dancers had been practicing this traditional dance for years, and based upon the intricate moves on display, their training paid off.
Besides the grace and precision of the dances, the clothing was also a highpoint. The audience was mesmerised by the dancers dressed in traditional saris and strapped with bells and jewellery whose jingles were deftly synched with the music.
The athletic ability of the dancers is also worth noting. For half an hour each the two dancers swooned across the stage executing delicate and strenuous movements effortlessly.
In conclusion, this reviewer could find no flaws in Bharathanatyam. It was culturally educating, splendidly executed, and something I would like to see more of in St. Andrews. If Lakshmi Thiagarajan and Sanjana Ramaswamy decide to show off their skill again I highly recommended you see it.